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It’s the only card that pays you 3% cash back on every purchase the first year. And with no annual fee. The details are in our Discover it Miles review.

Discover it Miles review

Some time ago, Discover made the conscious decision to re-brand its entire line of credit cards. Previously known as “More” credit cards, Discover decided to go even shorter. Discover “it” is now the brand name and it encompasses credit card categories like cash back, balance transfer, student, and travel.

The travel version of the Discover it brand comes in the form of the Discover it® Miles. A somewhat nondescript, blue credit card with all of your personal information on the back, the Discover it® Miles packs one heck of a punch for its cardholders. From triple miles, to enhanced security features and no fees of any kind, this credit card gets high marks for just about everything.

Here’s a full look at what the Discover it® Miles has to offer.

Discover it® Miles Rewards Program–3% Cash Back

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For the first year you’re a Discover it® Miles cardholders, you’ll earn 3 miles per dollar spent. You see, Discover’s usual rewards rate on this travel rewards card is 1.5%. For the first year, however, Discover doubles all of the miles you’ve earned.  On your anniversary date, Discover will do a “Miles Dump”. All of the miles you’ve earned for the first year will appear again on that day. So if you earned 50,000 miles the first year, you’ll see another 50,000 show up on day 366.

Miles can be redeemed in the following ways:

  • Credit to your account for travel purchases made within the last 180 days
  • Electronic deposit into an account you designate
  • Pay with miles at merchants through Discover.com/paywithmiles

In all scenarios, the value of your Miles is one mile = one penny. There are no transfer options for miles, so in effect, this card acts as a cash back rewards card. Discover simply puts the moniker “miles” on it and BAM, you think travel rewards.

Miles never expire so long as your account is open and not used for any illegal transactions. You will not earn any miles for balance transfers, cash advances, or illegal transactions. If you close your account with Discover and have a miles balance, they’ll automatically credit your account for the rewards you’ve earned.

Feel Secure with the Discover it® Miles

Unlike many other credit cards, the Discover it puts a lot of focus on credit security. From free FICO scores to credit freezes, here’s a look at what the Discover it® Miles has to offer to protect your credit profile:

  • Free social security number alerts
  • Free FICO score every month
  • The ability to freeze your Discover account is seconds.
  • Free credit account alerts
  • Free overnight shipping to replace any lost or stolen credit card

Discover is now offering free social security number alerts. Anytime your social security number pops up on a risky website which Discover monitors (thousands), they’ll let you know. You also have the ability to freeze your account at a moment’s notice. A quick click of the mouse and no one will be able to use your card to make purchases.

Your FICO score will also be available every month you receive your Discover statement, either by mail or online. The score can always be visible when you log into your Discover it® Miles account, but it only updates once a month.

Discover it® Miles APR and Pricing Details

New cardholders will receive a 0% intro APR on purchases for a full 14 months. Once that intro rate expires, the ongoing APR becomes 11.99% – 23.99% variable. The other interest rates and fees you need to be aware of if applying:

  • 25.99% APR for cash advances
  • $10 or 5% cash advance fee
  • 3% balance transfer fee

Discover also boasts one of the great perks of owning a Discover it® credit card. The first time you miss a scheduled payment, no fee is charged. When you go over your credit limit, no fee is charged. Discover also won’t raise your APR to the penalty level if you are a habitually late payer. No pay-by-phone fees or foreign transaction fees to speak of. And last but not least, no annual fee.

All of this is to say if Discover charges you a fee outside of interest, you must have done something pretty awful!

How Much Can You Earn

We got out our calculator to see just how much money you might earn with this card. According to the most recent Consumer Expenditure Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average family spends $63,784.

Not all of this could be charged to a credit card. For example, 11% of this total is paid in taxes. And you can’t typically pay your mortgage and certain other debt with a credit card.

We’ve assumed, however, that you can put 50% of your spending in the Discover it® Miles card. This would include food, clothing, travel, entertainment, and many monthly bills.

Now to the math. Half of $63,784 gets us to $31,892 charged to the card. At a 3% reward rate the first year, you would earn $956.76 in rewards. Earning almost $1,000 in year one for using a credit card is one of the best deals we’ve found.

When to Take Advantage of the Discover it® Miles

Whether you’re in need of a cash back credit card or travel rewards credit card, the Discover it® Miles can help. During the first 12 months, getting an effective rate of three miles for every single dollar you spend is unmatched. When you consider that the first 14 months of purchasing are interest free, there’s really no better option available for everyday spending.

And perhaps the best feature of the Discover it® Miles is that it comes to you fee free. I’m always annoyed when I miss a payment date by a single day, and a $35 fee shows up. Chase, Citi, Capital One … they all take advantage of the late payment fee. But Discover let’s it slide, and let’s it slide often.

No annual fee, no interest early on and triple miles for every dollar spent for the first full year. What more can a credit card provide?

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Using rent payments to improve your credit is now easier than ever. We cover the websites that can help you report your rent to credit bureaus.

Rent Payments to Improve Your Credit

If you’re among the 36.6% of US households that rent, you’re probably missing out on the single biggest credit reference: Your rent payment!

Traditionally, the only way that your rent payments affect your credit score is if unpaid rent goes into collection. Your many years of making rent payments on time aren’t even recognized. Fortunately, that situation is changing. You may be able to help your own cause by learning how to report rent payments to credit bureaus.

Here are several services that can help you do just that.

Experian RentBureau

Experian has been moving forward in reporting rent histories through its Experian RentBureau. The service started in December, 2010, when Experian became the first credit reporting agency to include on-time rent payment data on its credit reports.

RentBureau will show your rental arrangement as a trade line, and includes your payments for the past 25 months. The data in the trade line will also show the date you started renting and your monthly payment amount.

There’s some really good news here, too. Experian will only include positive rental history. The reason is that negative rental information will usually show up as a collection account, which is already reported by the collection agencies.

Of course, there is a bit of a catch in the way this works. Your landlord won’t likely automatically report your rental history. That may be true even if you live in a very large apartment complex.

If you rent and you want your rent history included in your credit report, you’ll have to ask your landlord or property manager if they report to Experian RentBureau. If they do, you’re all set. But if they don’t, you’ll have to encourage them to do so. They may not want to. But there’s a workaround on how to report rent payments to credit bureaus.

How to Report Rent Payments to Credit Bureaus

To do that, you’ll have to have the landlord or property manager contact Experian RentBureau to set up the reference. Since there are fees (and extra work) involved, your landlord may have little interest in participating. If that’s the case, you can sign up for a rental payment service that works with Experian RentBureau.

When you do, you’ll actually make your rent payments through the rental payment service. The service will forward the rent to your landlord and then report the payment to Experian.

The downside to using a rental payment service is that you will usually have to pay a fee. Some services have a setup fee that could be as high as $50. But almost all have a per-payment fee as well. That fee can be a few dollars for each check payment or a percentage of either a debit card or credit card payment.

For example, if a service charges a 2.75% fee for a credit card payment and your rent is $1,000 per month, you will pay $27.50 per payment.

That’s obviously a bit steep. But if you’re looking to build a credit rating, it could be an expense worth paying.

Rental payment service providers that cooperate with Experian RentBureau include:

  • PayLease – Must sign up to determine fees.
  • PayYourRent – ACH fee (undisclosed) or 2.75% credit card fee.
  • RENTTRACK – ACH $6.95, debit card 2.75%, credit card 2.95%. ***Also reports to Equifax and TransUnion.***
  • ClearNow – Fees paid by landlord who might charge them back to you.
  • eRentPayment – ACH/eCheck $3 per transaction. ***Also reports to Equifax and TransUnion.***
  • rentler – $1.95 for bank transactions, 1.9% for debit cards, 2.9% for credit cards.

With services where the fee is paid by the landlord, it’s almost certain that the landlord will pass those fees on to you.

Rental Kharma

Rental Kharma is a service that reports your rent payment history to TransUnion. They do this after verifying your lease and your monthly payments with your landlord. After that, each payment that you make will be verified. You could also add your last 24 months of rent payments to fast-forward the process of building your credit score.

Rental Kharma isn’t a rental payment service. Instead, they contact your landlord once you’ve made your payment and verify that you made it on time. That means that though you will subscribe to the service for credit purposes, you will still make your rent payment directly to your landlord.

Rental Kharma also has what could be a big advantage for certain tenants. Rent payments are only considered late if they are more than 30 days past the due date. So if your rent is due on November 1, it will not be reported late to the credit bureau as long as it’s paid by November 30. But they do recommend that if you sometimes go beyond 30 days, you may not want to subscribe to the service. That is, rent payments more than 30 days late will count against you.

In order to join the service, you have to pay a one-time validation fee of $25. After that, you pay a monthly subscription fee of $6.95 for ongoing reporting. If you want to add your previous rent history, the fee is $5 for each month verified, up to a maximum of 24 months.

Your landlord must be willing to participate in the service, since they will need to verify your rent payments. But Rental Kharma is an easier sell to a landlord because the landlord isn’t required to pay any fees.

TransUnion RentReporters

You can also get TransUnion involved directly in rent reporting through their RentReporters service. Like Rental Kharma, they verify your rent payments with your landlord and then include the history on your TransUnion credit report.

Their website advertises that “The average credit score can increase 35 to 50 points in 15 days” as a result of adding your rent history to your credit report.

RentReporters has a one-time enrollment fee of $45.95. That fee includes both the landlord verification process and reporting up to two years of previous rental payments. To continue reporting future payments, there is a monthly subscription fee of $9.95.

If you have had different landlords in the past two years, RentReporters can verify your rent payment history for an additional fee of $50 for each landlord.

So that’s how to report rent payments to credit bureaus. All you need is a few extra dollars and a willing landlord, and you can have your rent payment history added to your credit report. If that history has been a good one, you could see an almost immediate increase in your credit score.

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J.D. Power recently issued its annual study of the best credit cards. Not surprisingly, cash back cards are still the most popular.

American Express, Discover, and Capital One topped the charts for customer satisfaction. Yet J.D. Power also found that customer satisfaction varied based on the cardholder’s age.

While these surveys are helpful, nothing beats a detailed analysis of the best credit card offers available today. So we’ve conducted our own research, the results of which are below. We’ve included a brief explanation as to why each credit card made the list.

Cash Back Credit Cards

Discover it® Card-Cashback MatchTM

Discover It® CardThe Discover it® Card-Cashback MatchTM credit card offers up to 5% cash back on categories that change every three months. In addition, Discover will double your cash back the first year, making this card one of the most rewarding available today.

In addition to the cash back rewards, Discover provides its members with free access to their FICO score and the new New Freeze It® on/off switch. With Freeze It, you can effectively turn off your card should you have misplaced it or suspect that it was stolen.

  • Cash Back: 5% on categories that change each quarter, up to $1,500 in purchases. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.
  • Sign up bonus: Discover will double your cash back rewards at the end of your first year.
  • Annual Fee: None.
  • Introductory APR: 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months.
  • Other Benefits: Discover gives you free access to your FICO score.

Find out how to apply for the card here.

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Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is best known for its 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets. What many don’t know is that it also pays 3% on gas and department stores. Add to that a $150 cash bonus when you spend $1,000 on the card in the first three months, and this card tops our list. Here are the cash back details:

  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations
  • 3% cash back at select U.S. department stores
  • 1% cash back on other purchases

Find out how to apply for this card here.

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Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

As a final cash back card to make the list, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card pays 1.5% on all purchases. There are no rotating categories or sign ups required. Capital One also pays a $150 cash bonus if you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months. There is no annual fee.

  • Cash Back: 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • Sign up bonus: Get a $150 bonus when you spend $500 on the card in the first three months.
  • Annual Fee: None.
  • Introductory APR: 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 9 months.
  • Other Benefits: Every 10th Uber ride is free up to $15 when you pay with your Quicksilver card through March 31, 2017

Find out how to apply for this card here.

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Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Discover it® Miles

Discover it Miles

The Discover it® Miles card takes the famous Discover cash back features and turns it into a travel card. You’ll earn 1.5 miles for every dollar spent. On top of that, Discover will double your miles the first year. And there is no annual fee.

  • Travel Rewards: 1.5x Miles on every dollar spent on purchases
  • Sign up Bonus: Discover automatically matches all Miles earned at the end of your first year. You could turn 50,000 miles into 100,000
  • Annual Fee: None

Find out how to apply for this card here.

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Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardThe Capital One Venture card is effectively a 2% card. You’ll earn 2 miles on every purchase. When you use those miles to pay for travel, they are worth 1 cent each. Thus, $50,000 in purchases will earn 100,000 miles. These miles are worth $1,000 when used to pay for travel expenses. On top of that, you can earn a 50,000 mile bonus when you spend $3,000 on the card in the first three months.

  • Travel Rewards: 2 miles for every $1 in purchases
  • Sign up Bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of approval, equal to $400 in travel
  • Annual Fee: $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that

Find out how you can apply for this card here.

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Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest American ExpressArguably the best hotel rewards card, the Starwood offers 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Starpoints can not only be used for hotel stays at Starwood properties, but they can also be transferred to many airlines and other travel partners.

  • Travel Rewards: Get up to 5 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating SPG® hotels – that’s 2 Starpoints for which you may be eligible as a Card Member in addition to the 2 or 3 Starpoints for which you may be eligible as an SPG member. Get 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • Sign up Bonus: Get 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Find out how you can apply for this card here.

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Balance Transfers Cards

Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer

Discover it 18 MonthDiscover offers a version of its Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer card that comes with a 0% balance transfer feature for 18 months. The card also comes with all of the same cash back rewards of the standard Discover it card, charges no annual fee and still offers free access to your FICO score.

  • 0% on Balance Transfers: 18 months
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of amount transferred
  • 0% on Purchases: 6 months
  • Annual Fee: None.

Find out how you can apply for this card here.

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It’s always important to read the issuer’s terms, but the 0% introductory APR that applies to purchases and balance transfers would be a good option for buying a larger item. If you’ve saved up to purchase some furniture, for example, you can use an introductory purchase APR of 0% to use the credit card issuer’s money to improve your cash flow — however, this leverage technique is risky. If you end up using the credit card for an emergency, you can make it more difficult to repay your balance before the introductory period is complete. On the other hand, it could leave you with more cash in your bank account.

Comparing and Using the Best Credit Cards

Even the best credit cards won’t fulfill their potential if used incorrectly. With that in mind, consider the following tips when comparing and using a credit card:

Pay off the balance in full each month: If you use credit cards as a tool for convenience, pay your bills in full every month, and are otherwise financially self-aware, consider some of these credit cards. If you use credit cards to pay for things you can’t afford, paying interest every month, then start thinking about paying off debt.

Consider your spending habits: Many of the above cards pay increased rewards for certain categories of spending. Therefore, consider how you’ll use the card before selecting the best option for your spending patterns.

Consider how you’ll redeem your rewards: Earning credit card rewards is just half the battle. Once earned, you should consider how you will use them. Many cards offer increased rewards when you use points or miles for travel. If you don’t travel frequently, a cash back card is probably best.

Enjoy the signup bonus: Signup bonuses are a great way to increase miles or points quickly. In some cases, they put cold hard cash in your pocket. But make sure you will meet the spending requirements to earn the bonus. And keep in mind that bonuses are just one feature to consider.

The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying. This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.

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Credit card debt doesn’t have to crush your budget. Take the proper steps and you can get out of credit card debt once and for all. Here’s how how to pay off your credit card debt.

How to pay off credit card debt

Credit card debt is a national epidemic. According to one survey, the average U.S. household with credit card debt owes $16,425. Just the interest on this debt can easily exceed $1,000 a year.

Credit card debt won’t vanish overnight. However, it can vanish if you take some small steps. Here are five ways to pay off your credit card debt.

Audit Your Charging Habits

Does your credit card balance mystify you at the end of every month? Tracking your spending could help with that. There are many online tools and budgeting apps that allow you to break down your spending. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Personal Capital: This free online tool will automatically track and categorize your spending. It also tracks all of your investments.
  • Mint.com: This free tool is similar to Personal Capital and is a popular option.
  • YNAB: This is our favorite budgeting app.

You’ll find a complete list of the best budgeting apps here.

Your credit card company may all provide a free spending app. Discover, for example, has an excellent tool that tracks your spending on the card by category.

Squeeze Extra Cash From Your Budget

It’s probably going to take a little pain to get out of credit card debt for good. Do your best to find extra cash hiding somewhere in your budget. Here are the steps to get there:

  • Create a list of all of your monthly bills
  • Look for unnecessary costs you can eliminate
  • Look for auto-pay billing errors from businesses or services you no longer use
  • Scrutinize bills that could potentially be reduced through negotiating, switching providers or bundling services
  • Look into refinancing your mortgage if you own a home

How can you lower or eliminate bills that just aren’t working for your debt-reduction plan? Ask everyone from landlords to cable providers if they can lower your rates or offer you better deals. Also, make sure the cancellation fees for getting rid of a phone plan or shutting off cable won’t be counterproductive.

Reduce Your Interest Rate

You could reduce payments by reducing your interest rate. How do you do this? There are two ways.

The easiest way is to ask. Most credit card companies are willing to lower rates if cardholders call and request a reduction. According to one survey, 84 percent of those who asked for a rate reduction or other concession received it.

Second, you transfer your balances to 0% credit cards. With these cards, you can receive 0% for up to 21 months. There is typically a balance transfer fee of about 3%. But this is far less than the interest rates charged by credit card companies. You can find a list of the best balance transfer credit cards here.

Note: Obtaining a new 0% credit card won’t be worth the benefits if you make new charges to the old card.  If necessary, cut up the old card so you won’t use it.

Take Things One Card at a Time

Focus on the card with the lowest balance if paying off at least one card quickly is your goal. If your goal is to try to rescue your credit score, focus on the card with the highest utilization rate. This can be found by dividing your balance by a card’s limit. Don’t forget to make the minimum payments on all other cards while you’re targeting your priority card.

Resource: Use this Debt Snowball Calculator to compare the best way to pay off your debt.

Stop Using Credit Cards for a While

A serious problem sometimes requires a drastic solution. You’re unlikely to get out of the debt cycle unless you stop using your credit card to make purchases. Cut up your cards, have a friend lock them away in a drawer or simply remove them from your wallet to avoid the temptation to fall back into old habits. Just make sure to have an alternative method for making emergency payments in the event that you become stuck or stranded somewhere without cash.

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Authorized User vs Joint Account – How to Add a Cardholder

by Adam Luehrs
authorized user vs. joint account holder

When adding somebody to an account, a common question is whether to add them as an authorized user or joint account holder. Here’s the difference. Are you looking into the options for sharing a credit card with another person? There are actually two main options to consider when making the decision to share a credit […]

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The Best Cash Back Credit Cards of 2017

by Luke Landes

Cash back credit cards can help consumers practice responsible spending while earning a little extra for their efforts when used properly. The days of earning 5 percent cash back on all credit card purchases may be just a memory, but the smart use of credit cards can still be profitable for diligent consumers. You may […]

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How to Finally Get Out of Debt

by Luke Landes
Climbing Out of debt

Getting out of debt is key to financial freedom. Being debt free gives you great financial flexibility. Paying off those debts, however, can be a struggle. Here we provide a comprehensive guide on how to get out of debt for good. Along with losing weight, getting out of debt is probably the most popular goal […]

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Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card Review

by Aaron Pinkston

Are you looking for a credit card that will reward you whether you’re purchasing a pack of gum or buying a diamond ring? The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card may be just that card with its 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase. The card also provides an impressive signup bonus that will leave you […]

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How is the Country REALLY Doing With Its Credit Card Debt?

by Abby Hayes

National averages for credit card and other consumer debt can be a good barometer of consumers’ financial capacity and goals. For instance, when debt decreases, Americans, as a whole, may be spending less and saving more. Of course, that’s a good thing. So, when SmartAsset released its average credit card debt study recently, we took […]

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Are Credit Card Annual Fees Worthwhile?

by Luke Landes

The best credit card deals are often spoiled by an annual fee. Annual fees can range from about $50 to $2,500, with the high end reserved for the super-select American Express Centurion Card (the “black card”). In return for this fee, credit card issuers provide a range of benefits beyond what typical no-fee cards offer. […]

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